With police-community relations already at a low point in the city of Albany, the mayor and police chief are dropping charges against a man who was arrested after filming another arrest Tuesday. An internal investigation is under way.
Early Wednesday afternoon, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan issued a statement acknowledging she had received "troubling" video footage of a Tuesday arrest in the city's South End. It says in part the "footage does not appear to depict efforts by police to de-escalate a situation, nor it does it depict the sensitivity I expect from all city employees in this moment and every day." The video shows events leading up a confrontation where police allegedly injured a woman's arm. That video was posted to Facebook by Albany resident Desiree Marcia, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment from WAMC.
A short time later, Marcia appeared at a rally in Washington Park, which evolved into a police-escorted march that extended uptown over Whitehall Road and down Cardinal Avenue. At the intersection of Cardinal and Hackett Boulevard, marchers took a knee.
Lukee Forbes of Albany co-organized the march.
"The video that circulating showed where individual and his girlfriend were kidnapped by the police unjustifiably, where this man tried multiple problem-solving steps to deescalate the situation. When you watch theres no officer intervenes and tries to deescalate the situation that was already under control. So this is what this protest is stemming from and this social injustice is going on with everyone."
Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins issued a statement echoing Mayor Sheenan’s, saying “I have had an opportunity to review the video circulating on social media of Albany police officers arresting a couple on South Pearl Street yesterday. I have decided to drop all charges associated with the incident and I have instructed the Albany Police Department’s Office of Professional Standards to conduct a thorough review into the incident. I ask the community to continue working with the police department in strengthening relations.”
On Saturday and Monday, police have donned riot gear and used tear gas to disperse protesters, shutting down some city streets and resulting in a citywide curfew Saturday and Sunday.